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New Guy here - question on building a vertical head for an Altas mill

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  • New Guy here - question on building a vertical head for an Altas mill


    I'm new here. I am a formally trained machinist but have not been paid to cut chips for nearly 40 years. I have a small Atlas horz mill for which I'd like to make a vertical head. Not sure I can accomplish it with the machine tools I have. But it does not hurt to ask.

    Does anyone have plans or experience building a head for one of these? I've seen a couple completed head, but no plans or details. I was thinking that I might be able to cannibalize an old drill press and replace the bearing with C5 units. The Atlas is a light duty machine so a drill press quill should be strong enough and I'd pick one with a Morse taper like my Craftsman drill press has.

    Any tips/suggestions would be appreciated.


  • #2
    Hi Snake, Not familiar with the atlas. what is the taper fitting in the nose? My Harrison is int30.Are you in the UK?



    • #3
      This is something I've also thought about getting around to some day. The two approaches I have seen are the "drive it with a belt from the horizontal spindle" and the "entirely separate motor & head" - in one case someone used a taig mill head for appraoch #2, IIRC. There are some commercial units (on eBay?) that use the first approach.

      I have probably a couple of years of my limited free time other projects to do first, but I'll be very interested to see what you do and how you do it.
      "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979


      • #4
        Actually if you google "vertical head for atlass milling machine" there is lots of pics and info including a pic of a belt driven one which requires no gearing and looks quite easy to make!


        • #5
          Hermetic -

          It has a #2 morse.
          "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979


          • #6
            What do you expect to do with it?
            If you want to do some milling, a drill press quill will have considerable slop, even if you take care of the bearings. Another complication, you need a draw bar.
            Drill/mill heads are the thing to look for unless you are up to the challenge of fitting a quill to a new case.
            Something to keep in mind, most people that have a vertical head adapted to a horizontal mill complain about headroom, Z axis. A Morse taper will require using end mill holders which won't help that aspect.


            • #7


              • #8
                Used to be able to pick up HF micromill parts cheap, I think little machine shop used to carry parts for them. It's a self contained unit with quill/motor/controls, as well as the mt2 taper. All you'd need to do is fabricate a mount.


                • #9
                  Thanks for the replies. I can buy a head for $600 that is very similar to the Marvin design. I'll have to google vertical heads for Atlas as suggested again. I thought I did it once, but might have forgotten to do that step.

                  The prices in that Marvin brochure are painful to read. Makes you wish you'd bought a dozen of each back then.

                  I don't plan on anything truly heavy, load-wise. Mostly stuff made from aluminum. The vertical feature would make the machine much more versatile. Long range plan is to buy a Bridgeport. We are trying to decide if we are going to move to a warmer climate and last thing I need is to lug a Bridgeport as part of the move. Already own two lathes and the Atlas along with a bunch of other stuff that is going to be a pain to move.

                  Had not thought about adapting a HF head to the Atlas. My guess is when all is said and done, the costs would be in line with just buying the currently offered head.



                  • #10
                    Well, you have a couple choices.

                    1) No quill. That is by far the easier, and the fastest way to start milling. You can pretty much do all the work on the lathe, I think, if you plan it right.
                    And, the quill is not a great thing on an adapter head anyway. They are not present on most original equipment attachable heads. And, with an atlas, or other small H-mill, the thing is mostly a make-do, a bit like milling on the lathe, due to the limited "daylight" over the table.

                    Marvin, and others do not have it.

                    I have that sort, although I have never identified the head that I have... I opted to drive it from the H-spindle, as you see. It is good enough to go on with, but I would want a better mill eventually. The head originally had a motor on the back of the overarm to drive it directly. That ran it a bit faster, but it still works well.

                    2) With a quill. Lots more work, and IMO not much more functionality, mostly due to the limited daylight. If I was going to make a milling head with a quill (and I plan to for a different machine), I'd want more room between the head and table, if only to make the quill useful. The Lewis has limited daylight, but I believe the Atlas has even less.

                    Go to the link below ans scroll down to see the Marvin on the Atlas. Even with the table all the way down, the clearance is not wonderful.... and just imagine a vise on top, subtracting more room.


                    Keep eye on ball.
                    Hashim Khan


                    • #11
                      I sold a Marvin head on Ebay once. Could buy a mini mill for that price. There's a web page where someone put a bigger ER20 spindle in a Taig head. Advantage with taig is they sell all the parts separate. Std Taig is ER16 and 3/8" bits. While not going to hog metal, there's lots of cutters easier to find in 1/2" shaft.